Venice

The perfect weekend getaway: Venice

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

The best way to describe Venice is beautifully melancholy; full of tiny streets, ancient buildings and its famous canals. Here is my guide to a magical winter getaway in Venice.

Friday afternoon

On arriving it’s time to check in to the hotel; I recommend Hotel Al Codega. It’s right in the centre of Venice but is quite affordable, and a really lovely hotel to boot! Then it’s time to go out!

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

We’ll save the proper exploring for tomorrow so tonight we’re just going to walk down to the famous Ponte di Rialto. Like everywhere else in Europe there are some lovely markets at Christmas in the square near the bridge. I would recommend the Italian pastries - they’re a lot sweeter than I was used to (as an Australian) but they were very delicious.

After some wandering it’s time for dinner at Osteria Enoteca San Marco and boy are you in for a treat. The food is traditional northern Italian fare, though usually with a twist. I had an incredible cacio e pepe (a dish I have a mild obsession with) and my husband still raves about the tiramasu. The wine list is extensive but very well priced - don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation!

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After dinner you can head to bed OR head down to the Piazza San Marco for a night time stroll. It is both creepy and beautiful at night. Our night walk was on a misty night and it felt very mysterious; I really felt like I had been transported back to the 1800’s. I kept expecting ladies in Victorian gowns to sweep out of the mist.

Saturday

Rise and shine! Time for the first full day of your adventure in Venezia! The breakfast in the hotel is really yummy, so feel free to have breakfast there - or head out to find a cafe and enjoy a latte.

When you’re fueled up (and if you’re like me, caffeinated) it’s time to start the day. First stop is the Palazzo Ducale; the palace of the Doge who once ruled Venice (and large chunks of Italy and Europe). I cannot explain to you how incredible this visit will be - it is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The Hall of the College literally cannot be captured in pictures.

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After marvelling at the Palazzo all morning it’s time for lunch. I know most people would urge you to “get away from the tourists areas” to find something to eat I disagree - at least where lunch and piazzas in Italy are concerned. My favourite way to eat lunch in Italy was outside looking out over a piazza. And there really isn’t a much more spectacular piazza than the Piazza San Marco in Venice. My one suggestion is to go to the left of the Basilica San Marco - the restaurants there are a lot less pricey (though still delicious).

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

After lunch go for a walk along the promenade (on the other side of the Palazzo) to help work off the pizza or pasta you had for lunch and enjoy the beautiful views. When you get to the end you can loop through the park and through the suburb of Castello (where most actual Venetians live now) on your way back to the hotel.

After a few hours relaxing back at the hotel (and maybe a few drinks in the hotel bar) it’s time to head out for dinner at Ristorante Trattoria Cherubino. It’s a really lovely and cozy restaurant that does amazing risotto (and I say this as a card carrying risotto snob).

Sunday

Sunday is going to have a slower vibe; but Venice is the perfect place for a more leisurely day. After breakfast it’s time to head out and wander the streets. It’s remarkably difficult to get lost in Venice, even with all the tiny side streets and back alleyways. Having the Grand Canal running through the centre of Venice is a great way to keep yourself centred. Plus you have the train station to the north and the ocean to the south to help keep you oriented.

The perfect winter getaway: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

If you do want to learn a little more about the history of Venice you can head down to the Maritime Museum. Venice built its fortune on sea trade and it is truly fascinating to learn more about.

And if you’re wondering where to have lunch - head back to the Piazza San Marco or take a chance on one of the many restaurants you wander past (Italy is the only place in the world where you can feel pretty safe about getting a good meal from almost anywhere you go). Either way; a great way to end your trip is a cocktail at the famous Harry’s Bar.


Travel Guide: Venice

The best way to describe Venice is beautifully melancholy. Venice can remember once being the most powerful city in the world, and knows how far it has fallen. Somehow though, that melancholy just adds to the beauty of the city. It is a photographer's dream - endless tiny streets and bridges and canals. It's like nothing else in the world.

Where to go

Palazzo Ducale

If you want to understand the power Venice once wielded this is the place to go - the palace of the Doge, who once ruled Venice. The receiving hall defies description, every surface is painted with astonishing frescoes and it is enormous. We walked through endless beautiful halls and even spied several secret passages (which naturally sent me into transports of delight). I didn't really take many photos because photos cannot capture it - you have to see it to understand it.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Maritime Museum

The history of Venice is one of sea faring, so of course it was incredibly interesting to check out the Maritime Museum. Mike gravitated to the weaponry and I drifted over to the letters and maps and paintings. It was really interesting - though Mike and I's attention flagged a bit around the turn of the 20th century.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Walking the backstreets

There is something around every corner of Venice, and a lot of the best bits are hidden away in little back streets. Aside from the Palazzo Ducale and the Maritime Museum Mike and I spent most of our three days walking through the streets - we crossed the Rialto Bridge, saw Piazza San Marco, we even stumbled on the Castello neighbourhood where most Venetians actually live these days.

It is a city of astounding beauty and the best thing you can do is to just walk. Plus it's strangely hard to get lost - we always ended up back at the ocean or the Grand Canal. One foggy night we went for a walk along the water and it felt like you were back in the 17th century, surrounded by the intrigue of the court with ladies in long dresses swishing past you on the arms of handsome gentlemen.

Where to eat

Eating in Italy is a joy - Mike and I ate everywhere, from cheap cafes filled with older men having their lunch time pasta and wine to incredibly fancy restaurants. Aside from one slightly average pizza every meal - even the ones in the tourist areas - was delicious. The best thing I can recommend is to get out there, find the places near your hotel, order a spritz and just enjoy yourself.

Osteria Enoteca San Marco

This was our first meal in Italy and it was so memorable. We stumbled on it almost by chance, and actually went back on our last night as well because it was just that lovely. Let's start with the incredible wine list - wine varieties are very different in Europe compared to Australia (and possibly other places as well) so do not be afraid of asking for a recommendation - we did and we had the most beautiful bottle of red wine and for only 20 euros! When told the waitress that we were amazed that such a beautiful bottle would cost so little, she explained, as though this was the most obvious thing in the world, that the price of wine doesn't matter, the taste is independent of price. Suffice to say at that moment I fell in love with Italy. The food was beautiful - inventive but classic at the same time. Just thinking about it is making me sad because I would love to go there again.

Travel Guide: Venice // Miss Sweet Nothings

Where to stay?

Hotel Al Codega

Hotel Al Codega is a fairly new hotel - and is styled as a boutique hotel with a nice little lounge for pre dinner drinks, breakfast in the morning and beautiful rooms. We had a lovely time staying there, they were so helpful and friendly. The only thing I will say is that because it's new, it felt like it hadn't quite relaxed into itself yet - but I think that will come with a bit more time and certainly didn't impact our stay. One thing to mention is they send you a map of the hotel location - you will absolutely need it - the hotel is down the most nondescript alley. You will never find it on your own.

further reading

Beth of Local Milk hosted a workshop in Venice and her photography is spectacular

Mimi & Alex Ikonn made a follow me around Venice video